BERLIN (AP) — An Iranian director is competing at the Berlin film festival with a portrayal of a disintegrating marriage that highlights a clash between traditional and modern ways of living and thinking.
Asghar Farhadi’s “Nader and Simin, A Separation” screened on Tuesday. Farhadi was honored as best director in Berlin two years ago for his previous movie, “About Elly.”
The new film chronicles the events that follow a wife’s unsuccessful petition for a divorce, which she seeks when her husband refuses to leave Iran with her and her daughter. He worries about leaving behind his father, who suffers from Alzheimer’s.
The wife then moves out and the man hires a pregnant, pious young woman who agrees to take care of his father, without telling her husband. One afternoon, a blazing argument is followed by the woman suffering a miscarriage – setting in motion a chain of events that shakes the family and sees the characters repeatedly dragged into court.
“One of the aspects of this film is the struggle between those who are led by tradition and those who are led by a more modern aspect of life,” said Farhadi, speaking through an interpreter.
That can be seen both in the wife’s struggle with her husband over the family’s future and in the worries of the care giver, who is seen seeking religious advice on whether she can change a male patient’s clothes.
Farhadi said a high divorce rate in Iran is one side-effect of a “great wish to be more modern.” But he insisted his film is as much more universal than an Iranian story.